Stephen Hester  is under intense pressure to turn down the bonus.

IDS piles pressure on Hester over bonus

IDS piles pressure on Hester over bonus

By staff

Iain Duncan Smith has joined the growing chorus of voices calling on Stephen Hester to turn down his £1 million bonus.

Amid intense public hostility, RBS chairman Sir Philip Hampton has given up a £1.4 million shares reward he was due, but the chief executive is yet to back down.

"I've always said [executives] should think very carefully about being detached from the British public," work and pensions secretary Mr Duncan Smith told the Andrew Marr programme.

"It's for him to make a decision about that. As a member of the government I don't have a collective opinion on that but I must say nobody would be happy with the government if he made such a decision."

Mr Hester's £963,000 bonus comes in addition to reports that he could pick up shares currently worth £7.8 million as a bonus.

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna commented: "It is staggering ministers should have allowed themselves to get into such a quandary over the Hester bonus given they knew it was in the offing for many months and would be a matter of immense public interest.

"Ministers infer there would have been ‘chaos’ and that the board of RBS would have resigned if prohibited from paying out a huge sum by way of bonus to the RBS chief executive when there is little evidence to support this – instead the chairman of the board has responded to mounting public criticism by giving up the £1.4m worth of shares he was due to receive himself next month." 

A survey for the High Pay Centre showed huge public support for action against executive pay, with two-thirds of people demanding worker representation on remuneration committees, a move the government refused to enforce last week despite official recommendations.

The ICM poll also found that most people resent salaries over £1 million for bosses.